Wellington one step closer to honoring late mayor Tom Wenham

Former Wellington Mayor Tom Wenham and his wife, Regis Wenham, at the Feb. 28, 2020, Village Council meeting. The council at the meeting voted unanimously to add Tom Wenham’s name to the Founders Plaque in Village Hall. [Photo by Village of Wellington]

A man who played a pivotal role in Wellington’s transition from suburb to municipality and was the village’s first elected mayor soon could have a street ceremonially named in his honor.

A street co-naming policy was featured on the Village Council’s consent agenda that was approved unanimously at Tuesday night’s meeting.

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The policy’s approval paves the way for Wellington to honor longtime community leader and public servant Thomas Wenham, who died Dec. 29 at age 90.

Wenham was survived by his wife, Regis; son, Mark; and grandchildren. Tom and Regis Wenham moved to Wellington in 1981, to their home on Pine Valley Drive. He was Wellington’s first elected mayor, chaired the Wellington Community Foundation and founded Wellington’s American Legion Post 390.

I could go on, but Wenham’s obituary on the Palms West Funeral Home website covers his career more comprehensively than I can in this space. I’d encourage you to read it. Just a few highlights:

  • Wenham was an Air Force veteran who served in the Korean War.
  • Before moving to Wellington, he worked in local government in Massachusetts.
  • His first job in Florida was with the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office from 1981 to 1993.
  • He volunteered for the Acme Improvement District before Wellington’s incorporation.
  • He helped to lead the effort for Wellington’s incorporation.
  • He was elected to the first Village Council in 1996, and was the third “selected” mayor from 2000 to 2003, meaning he was chosen by his fellow council members to serve in that role.
  • He became Wellington’s first elected mayor in 2003.
  • He served on numerous community boards and committees and was a longtime member of Wellington’s Architectural Review Board.

Following Wenham’s death, Wellington’s council asked village staff to find an opportunity to name something in Wenham’s honor.

The new street co-naming policy approved Tuesday night is the best way staff could find to meet that challenge, while not interfering with mortgages, bills and other legal documents that would need to be changed with a full street naming, Village Manager Jim Barnes told the council at Monday’s agenda review workshop.

As an example, a street like South Shore Boulevard could potentially have a co-name of Thomas Wenham Boulevard. Not to say that is the street that will be chosen. The council must discuss that at a future meeting.

“You really don’t impact the addresses located on those streets,” Barnes said Monday, adding that, “It still allows you to honor someone.”

While addresses won’t be affected, signs will indicate both the official and honorary street names.

According to the draft policy, Wellington streets could be considered for co-naming in honor of individuals or organizations if they meet these criteria:

  • Only Wellington’s council can initiate and approve co-naming of streets.
  • A resolution will be required to approve street co-naming.
  • The co-naming should be limited to collector or arterial streets.
  • Honorees should have a minimum of 10 years’ involvement in the community and have demonstrated “an extraordinary and consistent voluntary commitment and dedication to the community, or who have contributed significantly to Wellington.”
  • An honoree has to be dead for at least one year before the co-naming can be considered. An exception can be made for people “who die under infamous circumstances of crime, accident, disease, social circumstance, military service or the like, or if the death itself leads to a greater awareness within society of the cause of death and a concerted effort to address that problem.”

Scroll down to read the policy approved Tuesday night.

Which street should be renamed for Wenham? Are there any other Wellington founders who should be honored this way? Comment to share your thoughts.


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